The Galaxy S8 has a six months ‘technological’ edge over the iPhone 7. But is it necessarily better? Let’s find out.
In terms of design, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the clear winner. The handset’s bezel-less design with its Infinity Display at the front gives it a very futuristic look, which the iPhone 7 is simply not able to match with its three-year-old design now. The bezel-less design also ensures that the Galaxy S8 is more compact than its 5.8-inch screen size would suggest. The handset features an all-glass design with a metallic chassis, which gives it a premium look and feel. The design is the same as the one that Samsung debuted with the Galaxy S6 in 2015, but it has been tweaked by the company to make it more ergonomic friendly. Plus, the new color options that Samsung has launched the phone in further helps freshen things up.
Both phones are dust and water-resistant, though the Galaxy S8 has a better IP certification than the iPhone 7. The former’s IP68 rating means that it can be submerged in up to 30mins of fresh water for up to 1.5m depth, while the iPhone 7’s IP67 certification means that it can only be submerged in fresh water for 15mins with a maximum depth of 1m.
The bezel-less design and the Infinity Display also allow the Galaxy S8 to pack in a larger and superior display than the iPhone 7. The handset comes with a 5.8-inch curved Super AMOLED panel with (2960 x 1440) QHD+ resolution and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. This new aspect ratio is better suited for multitasking and aids one-handed use as well. As for the display quality, Display Mate rated the Infinity Display as A+ — the highest rating ever awarded by them to any display panel. And as if the high resolution, brightness, and contrast levels of the display were not already impressive enough, the Galaxy S8’s Infinity Display is also the first smartphone display to be Dolby Vision and HDR-10 certified.
As for the iPhone 7, it still makes use of a 4.7-inch Retina HD IPS LCD panel with 1334 x 750 resolution. The display is not bad by any means with great viewing angles, brightness levels, and saturation and contrast. It also has support for wide gamut DCI-P3 color space for better vibrancy. Display Mate also ranked it as the best LCD display to be used on a smartphone and said that it reaches the technological limitations of what the LCD technology is capable of. However, the 4.7-inch panel on the iPhone 7 simply cannot hold its own against the Galaxy S8’s excellent QHD+ Super AMOLED panel in terms of sharpness, brightness, color accuracy, and other aspects.
Gone are the times when LCD panels were better than AMOLED displays. Samsung has made huge strides in this department in the last few years, and AMOLED displays on smartphones are the future now. No wonder even Apple is planning on using an AMOLED display on the iPhone 8 this year.
The LCD panel on the iPhone 7 does have one ace up its sleeve, though: it features 3D Touch. This pressure sensing technology allows users to interact with the OS in a completely new away. The content shown on the screen will depend on the amount of pressure the user applies on the screen. While all major iOS apps are taking advantage of 3D Touch, the technology has not exactly turned out to be a game changer as Apple first hyped it to be.
See also: Full Samsung S8 Review
Processor, RAM, & Storage
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the first flagship Android phone to launch with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset. Based on the 10nm fabrication process, this octa-core chip is clocked at 2.35GHz and is paired with the excellent Adreno 540 GPU. The international variant of the handset comes with Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 chipset that is also an octa-core chip based on the 10nm fabrication process. Both chipsets make use of big.LITTLE technology to ensure the right mix of performance and battery life.
In comparison, the iPhone 7 features Apple’s A10 Fusion chip. It is a quad-core chip that features two high power cores and two low power cores to maximize battery life and performance.
Despite being based on the 14nm/16nm process, the A10 Fusion chip rivals the efficiency of the Qualcomm and Exynos chip used inside the Galaxy S8. In terms of performance, its a no contest with the A10 Fusion chip completely crushing the other two chipsets in single-threaded scenarios. It is only in multi-core benchmarks that the Qualcomm and Exynos chipsets are able to catch up to Apple’s in-house chip.
Another important thing to consider here is that Samsung devices are known for their performance deteriorating within a few months. While iPhones also start feeling slow, that usually happens after a year or two of owning the device. But with Samsung, if history is anything to go by, the Galaxy S8 will start feeling sluggish within a few months itself.
The iPhone 7 comes with 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM, while the Galaxy S8 comes with 4GB of it. The additional RAM does not automatically make the Galaxy S8 a clear winner though. This is because iOS is more resource efficient than Android and the lower resolution of the iPhone 7’s display means that apps don’t need as much RAM as they do on the S8. The Galaxy S8’s problem is further worsened by Samsung’s own skin that is heavy and bloated and takes up additional resources.
In terms of multitasking, the Galaxy S8 does fair a little bit better than the iPhone 7 by holding more apps in its RAM. But it is not as good as many other Android smartphones in the market that come with 4GB of RAM.
When it comes to storage, Apple and Samsung have taken a very different approach from each other. The Galaxy S8 is only available with 64GB of built-in storage, while the iPhone 7 is available in 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage options. The iPhone 7 features a faster custom PCIE-based storage solution that is among the fastest in the market. The Galaxy S8’s NAND storage solution is also among the fastest among Android devices but still remains slower than Apple’s custom solution on the iPhone 7.
While the Galaxy S8 is only available with 64GB of storage space, it does offer a microSD card slot. This means that users do have an option of upgrading the storage on their device on the cheap to up to 1TB. This is something that is not possible on the iPhone 7, with higher storage variants of the device requiring users to shell a lot more money.
Also see: Nokia 3 UK Review: A top android phone
Both phones come with a 12MP shooter at their rear, but they are very different from each other. The 12MP shooter on the iPhone 7 features a f/1.8 aperture, OIS, and 1.22u pixels. On the other hand, the Galaxy S8’s camera setup is the same as what was found on the Galaxy S7 from last year: a 12MP f/1.7 shooter with 1.4um pixels, OIS, and Dual Pixel.
The slightly wider aperture and the Dual Pixel autofocus technology helps give the Galaxy S8 an advantage over the iPhone 7 in low-light scenarios. To further improve the camera performance of the Galaxy S8 over its predecessor, Samsung is using computational photography tricks — something which Google did with its Pixel handsets for their great low-light performance. This means that like the Pixel, the Galaxy S8 will also take 3 photos in quick succession and merge them into one for lower noise, better dynamic range, and more details. If Samsung’s implementation is half as good as Google’s, the handset’s camera performance should be stellar in low light.
Both phones are also capable of recording videos in 4K resolution, take Live Photos/Motion Photos, slow-mo, and more.
As for their front cameras, the iPhone 7 features a 7MP f/2.2 shooter with Retina Flash, while the Galaxy S8 features an 8MP f/1.7 aperture shooter with autofocus. The presence of autofocus on the S8’s selfie camera should allow it to capture more pleasing looking selfies, though the presence of Retina Flash on the iPhone does give it an advantage in low-light scenarios.
Iris Scanner, Facial Recognition, and other sensors
While both phones come with the basic set of sensors like accelerometer, proximity sensor, gyro, fingerprint scanner, and others, the Samsung Galaxy S8 comes with a number of other sensors which the iPhone 7 lacks. On the front, the Galaxy S8 houses an iris scanner. Samsung had first debuted iris scanning on the Galaxy Note 7 last year, and this year, the company has further improved it. The handset also features facial recognition which the iPhone 7 lacks. However, the facial recognition system on the handset is not really accurate as videos have proved that it can be easily fooled using a photo.
Lastly, the Galaxy S8 also comes with a heart rate scanner, though it is not particularly useful and is primarily a gimmick.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 comes with a 3000mAh battery, while the iPhone 7 comes with a 1960mAh battery. The batteries on both handsets are non-removable. While the Galaxy S8 does come with a larger battery, it also features a significantly larger display and power hungry sensors. It is tough to say which phone will offer better battery life as it will vary greatly depending on one’s usage.
The Galaxy S8 does have two aces up its sleeve though: fast charging and fast wireless charging. This allows the handset’s battery to be charged from 0-100% in just over an hour. The iPhone 7, in comparison, lacks any kind of fast charging technology and takes a particularly long time to charge with its bundled 5W charger. Then, the Galaxy S8 also features fast wireless charging, while the iPhone 7 lacks any kind of wireless charging technology. The Galaxy S8 is the only phone in the market to feature support for both Qi and PMA wireless charging technologies.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 are available at all major retailers and carriers in the United States and other regions in the world. While the Galaxy S8 is currently on pre-order in most markets of the world, it will be available in key markets across the globe by the end of this month.
Pricing of both handsets is also largely the same. The iPhone 7 with 32GB storage is priced at $649, with the 128GB and 256GB variant coming in at $749 and $849, respectively. The unlocked Galaxy S8 costs $724.99, though the variant will go on sale on May 9th. You can also buy the unlocked version of the handsets from carriers, but you will then be paying a slight premium.
Both phones come with their own set of pros and cons. The Galaxy S8’s design, Infinity Display, expandable storage, fast charging, and superior rear shooter do give it an edge over the iPhone 7. But then, the latter offers a superior software experience, better performance, security, and privacy that cannot me matched by the S8.
Which handset do you prefer: Galaxy S8 or iPhone 7? and why?